On March 13, 2020, the Ministry of Health confirmed the first Covid-19 case in Kenya. As a result, the government put in place several precautionary measures to mitigate the pandemic. Kenyans were advised to social distance, to maintain hygiene, avoid contact with persons with respiratory symptoms, and advised against non-essential travel to affected countries. Far from these precautionary measures, the President announced a stimulus package to address the impact of corona virus on the economy. Additionally, the government announced a 7 pm to 5 am curfew to curtail the spread of the virus.


Far from the health and economic impact of the pandemic, the government did not foresee how these lockdown measures would affect the most vulnerable members of the society leading to the emergence of another catastrophic pandemic that would threaten the lives of women and girls- sexual and gender-based violence. According to the Ministry of Health, at least 5,000 sexual violence incidences have been reported across the country, 65% of them involve teenage girls. Health Chief Administrative Secretary Dr. Mercy Mwangangi in April 2020 said that the Gender Violence Recovery Centre had recorded a spike in domestic, gender-based and sexual violence. She stopped at warning perpetrators that action would be taken against them.


The Kenya Health Information System reported that 11,795 teens in Nairobi County got pregnant in the period Jan to May 2020. Kakamega County came a close second with 6,686 cases and another 3,964 girls under the age of 19 were pregnant in Machakos County alone. However, these numbers are not reflective of the exact number of pregnancies as the data captures only the reported cases.

Unlike Covid-19, the domestic, gender-based, and sexual violence pandemic has not been given the attention it deserves as the government and policymakers have stopped at just issuing warnings to perpetrators. There has been no real or concerted effort to address this shadow pandemic.


A few months ago, President Uhuru Kenyatta noted that cases of gender-based violence, mental health issues, and teenage pregnancy had worsened and appealed to social institutions to exercise civic responsibility to bring these unfortunate trends to an end.


“If the family is weak, the country is weak. Therefore, to fortify our protection of the family as the foundation of the state, I direct and order that the National Crime Research Centre (NCRC) probe the escalating cases of gender-based violence, the worrying trend of cases where the girl child has been disempowered and the violation of children’s rights,” he said.

However, it seems the President’s directive was just that because the NCRC has not issued a report over the issue. This means that those charged with mitigating such incidences do not see the need or the importance to address this pandemic that is promising to wipe out the future of our women and girls.

As the government debates on whether to reopen educational institutions, is the Education ministry prepared to ensure a smooth return to school for the affected girls? Are police well equipped with the knowledge to handle rape, defilement and domestic violence cases? Does the government ponder on the need to build rescue centers across the country for victims of SGBV? Makueni is the only county that has built a safe house for SGBV victims.

In 2015 President Uhuru Kenyatta assented to the Protection against Domestic Violence Act which was a big relief to victims of child marriages and domestic violence. How well has the act been implemented or are we waiting for justice from the perpetrators?